When The Sky Is The Subject……..

……..And there’s nothing much to write home about at ground level, zero in on the big show in the sky!   That was the case this past week in the farm fields of Eastern North Carolina. The crops are in the ground but they’re months away from showing their stuff.  The soothing green foliage provides a nice foreground base but it doesn’t make for a very interesting picture.  I always go to spot metering in situations like this.  When this mode is selected, the camera meters a circle 3.5 mm (.14 in.) or approximately 2.5% of the frame with the circle centered on the focus point.  This makes it possible to meter off center subjects ensuring that the focal point will be exposed correctly even when the background is much darker or much brighter.  The result can be spectacular.

The trick is to remember to re-meter as the sky changes which, of course, it is constantly doing.  When the sun enters the equation (when it rises above the horizon)  be sure to take your meter point away from it.  This will ensure a proper exposure.

You’ll probably need to do a little work in post,  particularly if you shoot in RAW as I always do.  It allows me to change white balance and other aspects of the data to suit me.  As one who always under-exposes, I often have to boost shadows and tweak color curves.  Be careful with the clarity button in Camera Raw though.  Boosting it too much will result in a halo at the horizon. Sharpen the frame and you’re in business.  A final tip.  Photoshop (Elements etc..) offers a haze reduction button in the editing mode which often works quite well.  It’s worth a try.  Like so many things, I find digital DSLR’s and processing software at first to be overly complicated to the point of being obtuse but then spend every day thereafter being amazed at what they can do.  Have a good week ahead. See you next time.

Photo Of The Week: The Trees at Center Grove


I’ve written at length about the Center Grove Cemetery on our farm and the fact that many North Carolina Veterans of the American Civil War are buried here. You can check the archives if you’re interested in learning more of the facts and seeing some of the tombstones. I’ve also posted many shots of the cemetery in all of the seasons and just about every weather condition one can imagine, but  I’m still searching for the definitive image of the trees that shade the old cemetery.

I was out again this past week before dawn for another try.   What I really want is a shot that includes the newly risen sun starring through the dead hulk of the old Oak that dominates the east face of the cemetery but it is the wrong time of year. I’ll be back mid spring to try for that composition when the Sun has had time to backtrack to that position. Last week’s effort concentrated on the silhouettes of the trees against the early light of dawn taken from a very low perspective. I’ve tried this before but I’ve always started with the Camera setting in Adobe Camera Raw at “Vivid” which is usually the setting dialed in for all of my cameras.   This time, I used the “Camera Neutral” setting in Camera RAW  that turns down the the contrast and saturation settings to the lowest point.   The result, when I opened the image in the Camera Raw Conversion panel was a rather dull look. My aim was to protect the highlights and give me a good starting point to ramp up the dynamic range as much as possible.   The result is the shot above. I was right pleased with it as far as dealing with the scene as it presented itself. What it lacks is a lot of oomph or “wow factor” that will only come with a more dynamic sky, ie, one with more pre-dawn clouds to reflect the still below the horizon sun. Maybe next time! In the words of “Arnold”……I’ll Be Baaack!!” Have a great week. Thanks for the look….and the read….